23 things I wish I’d known before I went wedding dress shopping

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I’m not going to lie, I’ve only had one experience of trying on bridal dresses to date. However, even though it was very fun, it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. Here are the things I wish I’d known beforehand:

  1. Going with a hangover will be one if the worst decisions you’ve ever made.
  1. You might not have all the time in the world – check how long your appointment is before you go as you could be up against the clock.
  1. There probably won’t be champagne *sobs*
  1. You should definitely wear nude underwear. Preferably strapless.
  1. There will be lots of dresses that are way over budget. They should totally tell you before you start looking!
  1. Sample dresses are small.
  1. You’ll get asked about your weight loss plans.
  1. You probably won’t be able to take pictures.
  1. Never fake tan or wear heavy make up.
  1. You’ll feel like you’re playing dress up for the majority of the appointment.
  1. You’ll get lots of good ‘oooooohs’…
  1. And some not so good ‘hmmmms’.
  1. There may/may not be tears and either is fine.
  1. Stepping in and out of dresses in heels will seriously test your balance.
  1. You’ll want to try the massive meringue-y one on, even if it is just for fun!
  1. It might take a few people to get you into your dress and, as a result, they’ll see you pretty naked. Shave your legs.
  1. There’s nothing like trying on a veil to suddenly make everything feel real.
  1. The costs of a veil is enough to give you palpitations.
  1. Dresses look totally different on the hanger. Try them all on and take the advice of the shop assistants.
  1. It’s hard to get the full picture when you’re hair’s in a messy bun and you’ve still got a bit of last nights make up on.
  1. It can get very hot.
  1. Despite all of this, you’ll feel frickin’ amazing even if you don’t find the right one right there, right then.
  1. Your normal clothes will feel very boring afterwards.

Anything else I forgot to add?! Let me know @honest_bride.

Image from the movie Bridesmaids, but you all knew that anyways.

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7 cost savings I’ll be making at my wedding

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This cake cost more than my wedding will. Photo courtesy the richest.com
When we started planing our wedding I considered the budget to be pretty substantial. Sure, it was never going to be a Kim/Kanye-style extravaganza, but I felt happy that we’d easily be able to incorporate everything we wanted within budget. Then we booked our venue. I LOVE our venue and it ticks so, so many boxes. However, it was over budget and, as I mentioned in my previous post, I was quite naive to how much we were going to have to shell out quite so quickly. I’m now trying to find ways we can claw back some of our budget and generally keep spending under control. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far…
Flowers:

One thing I’ve learnt through this whole planning process is that it’s important to keep perspective. At what other point IRL would you think spending £1,000 on flowers reasonable?! You wouldn’t. I’m going to apply this logic to my wedding…potentially making my bouquets myself. I’ve also found that the less-fashionable florists are a lot more reasonably priced for those who don’t trust themselves with creating their own blooms.

Bridesmaid dresses:

Yes I would love to dress my maids in something fancy, but with so many high-end looking high-street options I just don’t think it’s necessary. Let’s face it, it’s unlikely they’ll wear their dress again so I’m not going to spend a fortune kitting them out with two birds dresses when they’ll look just as awesome in ASOS.

My shoes: 

I had always dreamed of getting married in a pair of Jimmy Choos. Again, having some perspective on the situation, who is really going to see my shoes?! I’d rather (one day) spend that money on shoes that I’m going to be able to wear again, not white ones that’ll be hidden under a dress and then banished to my wardrobe for years to come.

Cake:

I bloody love cake (who doesn’t?!) but I genuinely can’t remember a single wedding I’ve been to where I’ve actually eaten the cake! Wedding cakes are PRICEY and yet not something that anybody really remembers. I’m planning to source mine from somewhere like M & S (who have a very affordable wedding collection BTW) and put a nice cake topper on it. Kodak moment, done. The guilt of spending a months mortgage on a cake, not done.

Invitations:

Initially I was looking at intricate invitations with lots of embossing and different sections for different information. Then I realised how much people charge for what is essentially card. Card! I’m cutting costs by not sending Save the Dates (I’ve told everyone anyways!) and sourcing a local graphic designer to create my invitations which I’ll then print. There are so many more things I’d rather spend my money on than bits of card which aren’t going to mean much to anyone else.

Photo booth:

It seems like no wedding is complete without a photo booth these days but, as a result, prices are cray cray. I’ve seen so many examples of DIY photo booths/ back drops that are totally adorable, a lot more personal and a fraction of the price. *bulk orders MDF*

Guests:

This is brutal but if you don’t want someone there, don’t have them! Cutting even a handful of people can save a substantial amount so be ruthless – it is YOUR day after all and second cousin Jenny will get over it.
Any other suggestions are extremely welcome! @honest_bride

Things I’ve learnt about…choosing a venue

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One of the things I found most tricky about getting engaged was the immediate questions from people about dates and locations. I appreciate the excitement but, dude, I’ve been engaged a week – can I have some time to digest this, enjoy it, and work out what I want please?!

It quickly became clear (it probably should have been anyways #rubbishbride) that the linchpin of the whole getting married thing is when and where it is going to happen. As a result, this was the first big factor we decided to look at.

We’ve always said that we didn’t want a lengthy engagement, although, in hindsight, I’m not sure they’re such a bad idea after all! However, knowing that we didn’t want to get married in winter and didn’t want to leave it much longer than a year, we decided on early spring 2017. A good starting point.

When it came to picking where, this was a bit trickier and there were a few obstacles along the way too. Despite this, we’ve recently managed to book our venue and are SO EXCITED. Here are the things I wish I’d known before we started looking…

VAT

So on everyday life people add VAT to stuff and it’s not really a big deal because, y’know, you’re not generally dropping thousands of pounds at a time. When it comes to weddings, people casually mention it at the last minute and don’t think you’ll notice and additional couple of grand on the bill. Then your caterers add it too, and your drinks people. Check costs are inclusive of VAT before you get your heart set on a venue and quickly realise it exceeds your budget.

QUICK ACCESS TO CASH

This seems stupid in hindsight but I didn’t really realise exactly how much you’re expected to pay to secure a venue straight away. Coming up with the cash quickly can be stressful, adding to the stress that if you don’t find it then you’ll lose your date too, so make sure you only start viewings when you can easily afford the deposit. Get a thorough timeline of when you’re expected to pay the next instalments too to ensure you have time to save in between.

RANDOM ADDITIONAL COSTS 

When you go and see a venue and it looks dreamy and you decide you’d like to have the exact same day…until the true costs are revealed. Oh you like those chairs? ‘We can get those brought in for you, no problem’. You love the look of the fairy lights. ‘We can add them to your invoice? The pom poms? ‘We can put you in touch with our supplier.’ WHAT AM IN ACTUALLY PAYING FOR?!

LOCATION

Another one that sounds stupid…decide exactly where you want to get married before you start looking at venues. We had a few locations in mind before we started and it just made things really confusing. Pick one location and then look for venues there, it’ll make life much easier! Also, if you have any specific requirements of your venue (parking, easy access, accommodation), then make sure these are considered before going to see a venue, finding out it doesn’t fulfil one of your requirements and realising it isn’t suitable anyways.

SPECIFIC SUPPLIERS

If you have certain ideas in mind for food/drink/entertainment then make sure your venue is flexible and doesn’t require you to work with their existing suppliers. If you want Prosecco and pizza but your venue is more of a sit-down-dinner type of place, there’s no point in even paying a visit. Also, check that costs include staff – it’s no good paying loads for the food you want and then discovering you’ve got to pay extra for people to serve it.

REGISTER YOUR REGISTRAR 

Confirm whether or not a registrar is included in the cost of your venue. If not, book early to ensure you get the time slot you’re looking for. Again, make sure you incorporate this into you budget early…they are spenny!

USABLE SPACE

We were so close to booking a venue before I realised that there was nowhere for me to get changed before the ceremony. If you want to get ready at home, or are heading straight to your venue from a hotel, then this isn’t a problem. However, if you’re wanting to get ready at your venue before the ceremony then this is kind of a game changer. You probably also want the space to be pleasant – it’s going to be the last place you get dressed as a single lady after all!

DETAILS

You don’t want to pay your first instalment and then find out that some of your more specific requirements can’t be catered for – want fireworks? Check your venue allows it. Want to serve your favourite wine? Check your caterers can supply this or will allow you to. Want to party into the night? Check the timing restrictions in place at your venue. Want to leave decorations up overnight? Check that you don’t need to make arrangements for them to be taken down beforehand. Want to arrive early? You get the idea!

Last but not least…enjoy it! Don’t stress yourself out too much – looking at venues is fun and when you find the one you can see yourself getting married in the you’ll find a way to make it work.

Photo courtesy of the beautiful wentworthcastle.org.